Drapers meets founder of the Good People Agency, John Kiszely, to talk product, motivation and the importance of experience.
John Kiszely founded the Good People Agency in 2014, from a background working for brands including Calvin Klein, Selfridges and J Lindeberg. He talks to Drapers about finding his love of fashion, what he looks for in a brand, and his French bulldog, Biggie.
What’s your background – how did you come to be working in fashion?
I started assisting on shows in London as a hairdresser and ended up preferring the product to what I was actually there to do. I decided to quit hairdressing and ended up getting a job on the shopfloor in Selfridges. I started working as a brand specialist on the contemporary department, and I then met Rob Barcock [then sales manager] from J Lindeberg. Six months of solid persistence led to my first job with them in wholesale.
Why did you set up the agency?
I didn’t want to work for anyone any more. My role before the agency was for a corporate brand, and it was not how I wanted to work within the industry. I also wanted to work with brands and products that I had an actual interest in. I’m only just now content with the brands we represent, which has taken close to three years.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you were starting out?
Self-employment is a challenge in its own right. I have had some good people to lean on, but mistakes have been inevitable. It was a steep learning curve. I also wanted to represent brands who had no existing distribution and build something from the beginning with them.
What’s the latest brand you discovered?
QWSTION. They are a Swiss-designed bag brand with three focuses – sustainability, functionality and design. It’s refreshing to work with a brand with such a strong mindset.
What do you look for in the brands that you work with?
The people. When you spend time planning the launch of a new brand to a new market, there is plenty of contact and expectation, so it’s important that conversation is easy.
Do you go to trade shows? Which ones?
For spring 18 we have been in Paris with Resident Showroom. It’s been good to be around like-minded brands and building a positive network. We have also managed to catch buyers early in the season, and before they visit our London showroom.
Krammer & stoudt
What’s the best thing about what you do now?
Working with good people, good brands and good buyers.
How do you keep yourself motivated and creative on a day-to-day basis?
I work with nine brands, from contemporary menswear with Krammer & Stoudt and sneakers with Rompboy to skincare with Filmore, so every day is completely different. I try and ensure admin is done early in the week so I can get on the road and visit stores later on. Each store can give you great ideas on merchandising, brands, products and potential collaborations. I normally take my French bulldog, Biggie, with me as well!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I have kept a text message on my phone from 2013 from an old colleague of mine, Al Israel. It reads: “You go for it kiddo – sometimes change is the best ingredient and will give you a springboard opportunity for future growth.” I was changing jobs, which has ultimately led me to where I am today. I refer back to it often.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?
Work harder and take nothing for granted. It’s also important to speak to people with experience and take their views on board, without thinking you know everything. Experience is invaluable.
Favourite clothing brand
Not so much clothing: it’s sunglasses, so Monokel Eyewear!
Favourite places to shop
All Blues Co in Leeds. Loads of ace brands
Last fashion purchase
M65 jacket from Outstanding & Co
Paris. Sort of. It’s always work-related
Last book you read
The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters. It’s very unnerving
Last film you watched?
Train to Busan. It’s a Korean zombie film my kid brother recommended
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Hanging out with my dog, Biggie, and drinking coffee